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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nine Picks for Great Flicks at the 2016 SF International Film Festival

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Miss Sharon Jones! - SFIFF
  • Miss Sharon Jones!
The release of the San Francisco International Film Festival schedule is like Christmas morning to Bay Area movie buffs, and the SF Film Society just dropped the full schedule for its annual two-week smorgasbord of international films and indie flicks. More than 200 screenings are scheduled from April 21-May 5, but we’ve picked out a few standouts showcasing cult favorite directors, glam premieres, spellbinding documentaries, big-deal Hollywood stars in person and wack multimedia events that promise a bleeding-edge cinematic experience.

click to enlarge Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World - SFIFF
  • Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World
Werner Herzog has another new film (of course he does), this time a documentary exploring the insane, fabulous and complex ramifications of the modern-day Internet and it’s ability to simultaneously enrich and destroy our lives. Lo and Behold features interviews with Internet pioneers and high-profile hackers, and you’d better believe it’s all narrated by your favorite German director with a droll, monotonous accent.
Saturday, April 23, 8 p.m., Castro Theatre

The Family Fang
Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman team up in this offbeat comedy that also serves as Bateman’s directorial debut. But it’s a crazy-eyes Christopher Walken whose supporting role steals the show in this comic adaptation of Kevin Wilson’s bestselling novel.
Saturday, April 30, 7 p.m., Castro Theatre

Author: The JT Leroy Story
San Franciscans of the 1990s are sure to remember the literary scandal of JT Leroy, a celebrated trans author who turned out to be the fictional concoction of local artist Laura Albert. The ruse ended up ensnaring major celebrities like Courtney Love and the Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, a chain of events rollicking-ly retold in this documentary chronicling San Francisco’s complicated relationship with genderqueer culture.
Friday, April 22, 9 p.m., Castro Theatre

Contemporary Color
Hayes Valley outdoor theater space PROXY serves as the venue for this free movie night under the stars, an unconventional concert and performance film featuring This American Life host Ira Glass, Talking Heads founder David Byrne, St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, Zola Jesus and 10 high school color guard troupes. The result is “the most artistic halftime show you’ve ever seen,” and one of the more unique and unforgettable programs in this year’s film festival.
Friday, April 29, 8 p.m., PROXY
click to enlarge Blood Simple - SFIFF
  • Blood Simple

Blood Simple

The Coen Brothers themselves will be on hand at the Castro Theater for a screening of the 1984 thriller that launched their stellar careers. The Coens join Janus Films and the Criterion Collection’s Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell in an onstage conversation for the granting of the Mel Novikoff Award.
Saturday, April 30, 3 p.m. Castro Theatre

click to enlarge Vampyr - SFIFF
  • Vampyr
Vampyr with Mercury Rev and the Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde
This year’s annual "live band jamming alongside an old silent movie" show serves up a 1932 German-French horror film to an original score from sonic noise rock maestros Mercury Rev and ex-Cocteau Twins guitarist Simon Raymonde. Their psychedelic compositions will play to Weimar-era horror flick Vampyr, a creepy and atmospheric monster movie from that was among the first films of the era to actually use sound.
Monday, May 2 at 8:00 p.m.

VR Day
More than a movie, this daylong virtual reality festival at the new Gray Area digital arts hackerspace features VR experiences artist talks with many of the medium’s most accomplished creators. The event is a collaboration with The New York Times VR team, whose app you’re probably familiar with if you have one of those headset thingies!
Saturday April 30, Gray Area

click to enlarge Smokey and the Bandit - SFIFF
  • Smokey and the Bandit
Miss Sharon Jones!
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings have thrilled audiences and shaken booties for 20 years, but fans were rocked by recent news of Ms. Jones’ pancreatic cancer. She tries to keep the band and herself together in Barbara Kopple’s documentary on the ongoing cancer battle of the legendary soul/funk singer.
Friday, April 22, 6 p.m., Castro Theatre

The Bandit
The 30-day making of Smokey and the Bandit gets the in-depth documentary treatment in a festival Closing Night event that will make you contemplate wearing a trucker hat with formal attire. Rare archival footage footage from 1977 retells how Hollywood’s highest-paid stuntman Hal Needham collaborated with Burt Reynolds on a low-budget trucker movie, establishing a genre of “smokey”-evading CB culture comedies that defined an era.
Thursday, May 5, 7 p.m., Castro Theatre

You can see the full program and calendar for the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival online or in print at the finest flyer-stack repositories around the Bay Area.

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Joe Kukura


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